RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Board of Education had a meeting on Tuesday night, Sept. 16, where they had a lot of discussion on a very hot topic, the Booster Club policy. Other news about the high school Option II Program was also discussed.
During the superintendent’s report, Assistant Superintendent Fano stated that Option II Coordinator Kerry Eberhardt would be leaving the Randolph High School for a supervisory position in a different school.
“Kerry Eberhardt did a fantastic job really defining what Option II is. The board approved an effective date of her leaving Randolph and we wish her the best. With that said, there were some big shoes to fill. We were lucky and very fortunate to find an internal candidate who meets our expectations to follow Ms. Eberhardt’s footsteps and that is Dr. Andrew Buchanan,” said Fano.
Buchanan was the Randolph High School Teacher of the Year four years ago and the Morris County Teacher of the Year three years ago. Since then he continued to teach courses on the Holocaust and many AP courses. He has been recognized a number of times for his work.
The Booster Club policy stirred up a lot of conversation between the board and the public.
“There was a need to address the Booster Clubs. Based on our current policy there was no Booster Club that was in compliance with the policy. That’s not to say we have to change things. There were a few things in there that probably shouldn’t be. There were a few things that weren’t in there,” said board member David Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt reported that most Booster Clubs are not considered 501(c)(3)’s, an organized group operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. His belief was that Booster Clubs should be the ones to decide whether they wanted to be a 501(c)(3) or some other type of organization, not the board. The way the policy is currently written, the board mandates the Booster Club.
“Booster Clubs are an independent organization, legally independent from the school. The only attachment is they make donations and use facilities. There’s no reason for us to enforce booster clubs, which are legally independent to be a 501(c)(3) or nonprofit or anytime of organization and I recommend taking that out,” said Vice President Al Matos.
The policy also states that any time a Booster Club uses district facilities, buildings or has an event on campus they must have insurance with coverage of $1 million.
“The policy does say that if you want our facilities you have to have insurance, hands down. Whatever happened in the past happened but going forward we have to find a fair way so that all Booster Clubs have liability insurance, indemnifying the board,” said Mackay.
It is not the intention of the board to put any undue pressure on the smaller Booster Clubs. The board stated they would help find the best deal from their prospective and give guidelines as to what the board’s insurance carrier would like to see, as they did with VPAC and RamRAC
Booster Clubs representatives came out to speak their opinions concerning the policy during the open to the public section.
“The insurance coverage policy, people want to understand this. It means if there is a situation that arises and there is going to be a lawsuit; it’s going against the Booster Clubs and the officers not against the board and the district. So it’s totally on the Boosters and everything that the Boosters are doing is for the school and I do not agree with this at all and neither do the Boosters. I really think this has to be explored and I will get a ton of people that say the same thing. This is a very big issue,” said VPAC President Jeffrey Braverman.
Matos reiterated that since Booster Clubs are legally autonomous organizations they are solely responsible for the behavior of attendants and any liabilities that can happen during events and fundraisers while using district facilities.
“The board will be sued; everyone under the sun will get sued. We can’t prevent who will be sued. We are requiring in the policy that if the board gets sued for something that happened at a Booster Club activity that the Booster Club will hold the board harmless, that they’re going to indemnify for any cost legal fees and so forth that arises out of the particular incident. The purpose of the indemnification is so that the board is made whole for the lawsuit that it’s inevitable going to suffer,” said Board Attorney Marc Zitomer.
The board stated that if the Booster Clubs are insured then they are protected in case a liability happens. The issue the Boosters have is with the indemnification part of the policy. Braverman stated that officers will step down and will stop a number of Booster Clubs as a result of this indemnification.
“Again Booster Clubs are there for the school. They raise money for the school and for the clubs, everything is for the kids. It’s not right that you are not putting insurance there to cover that. I was on the Booster Club as the president potentially if there is not enough insurance in place, my home and everything else is on the line. That’s not appropriate,” said Braverman.
This policy review was solely a first reading. The board agreed to have a discussion on it before the next board meeting. Afterwards, any recommended changes may be adopted. It will move onto a second reading and then be put up for a vote.